Okay so this is pretty embarrassing, in fact it is every middle school boy’s literal worst nightmare, but I am going to write about my masturbation habits, on the internet, for potentially millions of people to see. I'm going to do it because I think this is what I’m supposed to do, and I think it is what we are supposed to do.
I think talking about things like this is what the Bible means when it commands us to walk in the light (1 John 1:5-10, Matthew 10:26-28) But, I’ll get back to that.
So one evening, about 3 or 4 years ago, I was having drinks with the leader of my church small group at our neighborhood bar, discussing lust, our marriages, and porn (Point 1 – you need this kind of relationship in your life). He told me that he had been close to cheating on his wife at some point in the past. He was a believer at that time and humbly wanted to credit Jesus for changing his life and his marriage.
At some point we got to the topic of masturbation and he told me that he had not masturbated in about 2 ½ years. “HAHAHAHA,” I laughed out loud. I knew he wasn’t joking, but it was just so absurd. I could not conceive such a thing, even if he and his wife had a good sex life, still, it’s not like that would be enough. I told him that his self-restraint and discipline were admirable, but since I didn’t look at porn and the Bible didn’t forbid masturbation, I didn’t feel the need to match his accomplishments. He was gracious, but I could tell he thought I was missing something.
At the time of that conversation, I had been married for almost a year and was having reasonably frequent sex with my wife. Yea, I was also masturbating alone every day as well. I had always done this, ever since I discovered that it was possible to cause such a pleasure with such little effort. I had never struggled too much with looking at porn, even before I was married. Masturbating just felt good, like a massage does. It’s normal. Guys have needs, more than women do, and you just have to take care of it. If anything it was FOR my marriage, so that I wouldn’t be tempted because I had already satisfied myself. I just needed to be able to honestly say, “I don’t look at porn,” to stay inbounds.
I hope you can see that there was a great deal of flawed logic in my thinking, as well as some unanswered questions as to what exactly was going on when I masturbated.
A year or so later I participated in a more intense group that was dedicated to identifying and confronting sin. I had joined the group to learn how to help other people identify THEIR sin, as my life was pretty under control and I wanted to help OTHER people.
You can probably see where this is going.
I was confronted about lust, and I told ‘em, “I don’t look at porn, I’m good.” Then, I was very sternly reminded of when Jesus said that If I even look at another woman with lust then I am guilty of committing adultery on my wife.
Uh oh! Well I was certainly guilty of that.
I realized in an instant how guilty I was. In fact, this whole time I had looked at women up and down as I passed them on the street, often visualizing myself having sex with them, sometimes in elaborate fantasies. This was fuel for my masturbation – that, along with my “spank bank” of previous real-life sexual encounters. Man, do I have a good memory when it comes to recalling those. Now that I thought about it, the things I was doing were, in a lot of ways, worse than looking at porn. Adultery really was a good description of what I was guilty of doing. My actions involved real people. In fact, they were at the expense of intimacy with my wife. Worst of all, the whole time I had been deceiving myself into thinking I was better than other people – all because “I didn’t look at porn.”
I was devastated, broken, and as upset as I have ever been. At that point, the Holy Spirit convicted me. I had no choice but to readily confess to anyone and everyone who would listen, beginning with my wife, then my group leader who I’d brushed off a year before. What happened next was a surprise to me.
Once I viewed my sin soberly, and confessed my sin openly, things began to change. My desires changed; I began to actually feel free of something that I was previously enslaved to. Something truly supernatural had happened in me. It wasn’t me or my efforts causing the change – it was Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Regular masturbation and lust no longer ruled me.
I am still a messed up dude. We all are. (Here is part of Toby’s story from our eBook about his struggles). I would not call myself sexually pure today. This is not a story about total victory from sin. I really did go a couple of years without lustfully masturbating, which was amazing, but I have been failing lately and it has been difficult. That is what made me think about this story and why I want to share it.
I do know that, looking back, I can name some things that contributed to my problem:
Trying to appear noble
Having a sin avoidance checklist
Thinking I was qualified to help other people because I was exemplary
Not being open with myself and others about just how messed up I was
I can also identify two things that were part of the solution:
Fellowship and community
That brings us back to what the Bible says about “walking in the light.” All of the points above are addressed in this short piece of scripture. If you think walking in the light means being righteous or living an upright or moral lifestyle, you could not be more wrong.
1 John 1:6-10
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Did you catch that? That “to walk in the light” is to be in fellowship with one another and we are thus cleansed from our sin. It is crucial that we let others in to our lives and do not protect our image, but be honest about the facts of our lives.
Let people ask questions and do not be defensive.
“If we confess our sins” He forgives us and cleanses us. Once you see your sin, confess it freely and don’t hold back. This is the best part of Christianity; that you get to confess, and become righteous as a result.
If you don’t do these things then you are “walking in darkness” and making Jesus to be a liar.
So, Biblically speaking, the person in your life who is always telling you the messed up stuff they are doing is walking in the light of Jesus and has His mercy and forgiveness, and the person who seemingly has it all together is very likely walking in darkness.
Yikes, I hope that scares us a little.
It scares me enough to write about my masturbation habits and confess that stuff to the whole internet. That’s because we at BadChristian believe that our (your) power is not in our (your) credibility or image, but in the ability that we have to connect with other people and lead by example in being transparent. We believe that this can be contagious.
Jesus asks us to bring our shit into the light so that He can deal with it, then others can see it and trust Him more deeply, or maybe even trust Him for the first time.
So my question to you is WHY AREN’T you talking about your sin?